Journalist Liamets: Some people have been deliberately driving down Ferrexpo's share price for years through dirty media campaigns

Journalist Liamets: Some people have been deliberately driving down Ferrexpo's share price for years through dirty media campaigns Ferrexpo is a group of companies producing iron ore in Ukraine

Shadowy players are using force and raiding in an attempt to break the global standard of doing business and influence the value of shares in Ferrexpo, a group of companies producing iron ore in Ukraine. This what Serhii Liamets, journalist and former editor-in-chief of Ekonomichna Pravda, said in his blog on Censor.NET.

He reminds that in recent years the company has been embroiled in a confrontation between the Deposit Guarantee Fund and Kostiantyn Zhevaho, the former owner of Finance and Credit Bank, and it has been several months since the bank's debts were auctioned off.

"The debt was bought by a private company, which should be called a collection agency, for a few percent of the full amount. Now the collector is putting pressure on Ferrexpo to get the full amount of the debt. But the collector is not the state. So now it is not a public matter, but a confrontation between two private entities. It is important to remember this when the media reports that Zhevaho has to pay off his debts (without mentioning to whom specifically). This arrangement fundamentally changes the problem. Paradoxically, it gives an advantage Ferrexpo," the journalist believes.

Liamets revealed that Ferrexpo is a British public company operating in Ukraine, and that its owner is not only Kostiantyn Zhevaho, but also a number of market shareholders who bought shares on the London Stock Exchange.

"This status in itself is a huge advantage, even if you hear somewhere that British jurisdiction means nothing. It means just the opposite. A company that makes up part of the FTSE 250 index is a brand of the same large caliber as Australia's RioTinto or Brazil's Vale. The company conducts transparent operations and fulfills many requirements according to strict international standards, including ESG criteria," he emphasizes.

Initially, the company's shares on the London Stock Exchange fell due to the full-scale war and objective obstacles to supplying products to world markets, but now, thanks to the TIS-Ruda terminal in Odesa, Ferrexpo has regained its sales figures and is even profitable.

"However, the share price continues to plummet. So, another factor is becoming increasingly important. Some people have been deliberately driving down the company's share price for years through dirty media campaigns. Yes, even problems in court are mostly information attacks. Their customers are not necessarily the same people who bought the debts of the Finance and Credit bank. But they will surely benefit from any scandal, because investors in public companies are careful to avoid any risks," Liamets believes.

He says that among the scenarios under which these information attacks take place are both the usual blackmail demanding that Zhevaho give up some of his shares and the option of a hostile takeover, when Ferrexpo's share price falls below the company's book value.

"I am sure of one thing: what is happening in Ukraine against Ferrexpo and its enterprises is not a story about establishing the rule of law. This is not even about bringing Zhevaho to justice for real or imagined violations. This is most similar to a classic Ukrainian story about forceful pressure, extortion and an attempted raider seizure of a business," the journalist writes.

He emphasizes that the attempts to take over the company are being made with the strong support of administrative resources, as evidenced by the disproportionately high bail amounts for Ferrexpo's top managers - UAH 999 million, while the prosecutor's office demanded a bail amount of UAH 157 billion.

Liamets added that Ferrexpo's shareholders include BlackRock, a powerful international company with trillions of dollars in assets.

"Ukrainian homegrown raiders probably think they can squeeze out a player like BlackRock from Ferrexpo's shareholders. It is a real game of chicken, because an investor of this level is able to resolve issues directly at the level of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And believe me, our president will do everything in his power to remove tension from these relations. And if it turns out that such games are allegedly being played on behalf of Zelensky, the president's response will be very severe," the author says.

He reminds that BlackRock and JPMorgan have established a $15 billion fund to invest in Ukraine's reconstruction. The journalist concluded that those who try to destroy investments through administrative pressure are harming Ukraine's reputation and jeopardizing billion-dollar projects.

"So, instead of the bottom line. Ferrexpo's seizure project is a losing game. Shadowy players are using force and raiding in an attempt to break the global standard of doing business. In my opinion, the case is hopeless, and even reputationally damaging. I do not know how much longer it will last. But I think that this game will end very badly for those who are playing it," Serhii Liamets summarizes.